The year is 2023 and the world of television is ever-evolving. Millions of people are cutting the cord and doing away with cable. Millions of others are holding strong with the traditional cable or satellite TV. But again, this is 2023 and if you want to watch your beloved Iowa Hawkeyes this season, you’re going to have to go through more gymnastics than you’re used to.
As you’ll recall, the Big Ten inked a 7-year, $7B new TV deal back in 2022. That deal went into effect over the summer and the result is a whole lot of networks who fought tooth and nail to get the rights to broadcast Big Ten football through 2030 have now begun the process of divvying up the schedule. A lot of that work is in the rearview mirror, but several weeks remain open for various teams in terms of kick time and TV network.
However, based on what has already been spoken for, we can break down what channels or streaming services, yes, seriously, you’ll need for sure to watch the Hawkeyes this year and just how much that might be setting you back.
While there are some things which remain uncertain, the first several weeks of the season have already been confirmed. Here’s a look at the schedule and what channel you’ll find Iowa on.
Date: Saturday September 2nd 11am
Opponent: vs Utah State
Date: Saturday September 9th 2:30pm
Opponent: @ Iowa State
Date: Saturday September 16th 2:30pm
Opponent: vs Western Michigan
Date: Saturday September 23rd 6:30pm
Opponent: @ Penn State
Date: Saturday September 30th 2:30pm
Opponent: vs Michigan State
A couple of notes here. For starters, that’s just one early start through the first five weeks with three afternoon kicks and the road night game for a white out at Penn State. Three of those games, the first three, are all on the FOX family of networks but each on separate channels. You’re likely to get each of those on your basic TV plan. If you’re a cord-cutter and not opting for a basic package from the likes of say YouTube TV or Hulu Live TV, you’re going to need to consider your options here.
FOX offers a standalone app to watch not only live sports but also TV shows. However, access requires a pay TV plan. Just about any of them will offer all three of FOX, FS1 and BTN in their base tier. Sling TV’s Blue package is probably the cheapest option at $20 per month (they’re also offering the first month at $20 as of this writing). However, check your zip code to see if you would also need an antenna to catch the FOX matchup. That will hold true in week four as Iowa travels to Penn State on CBS, which is also available on Paramount+ for $5.99 per month (note they are offering a one week free trial as of this writing).
If you’re looking for a one-stop solution, YouTube TV and Hulu both have you completely covered for $70-75 per month, giving you access to the first four weeks of the season.
Having said that, neither those streaming services nor your cable or satellite provider are going to help you come week 5 against Michigan State. As noted above, that one is currently slated for a 2:30pm CT kickoff on Peacock. There’s a nice little asterisk there because #1, Peacock is a streaming service, meaning you’ll need to subscribe to get access to this game if you aren’t going to be in Kinnick that day. And #2, the channel is still technically TBD.
Meaning, Peacock has this one for now, but it’s possible another network could flex that week 5 game within the 7-day window. So, unless you have another reason to add Peacock, might be best to hold off signing up until we get closer to game day. Peacock offers it’s basic (which they brand as premium) package for $5.99 per month. That will get you access to the live sports stuff so no real need to upgrade to the Premium Plus if all you care about is the Hawkeyes.
Now, here’s the small hook on Peacock. Iowa has two games which are scheduled to air on the service and unfortunately for Hawkeye fans, they are just more than a month apart. As noted, Michigan State is set to be in Kinnick on September 30th. Then five weeks later on November 4th, the Hawkeyes travel to Wrigley Field to face off with Northwestern. On Peacock. So, if you want to catch both games and won’t be there in person, you’re going to need to fork over that $5.99 for two months.
So, FOX family of networks through the first three weeks of the season, which is going to require some form of basic package either from cable, satellite or streaming service. Then week four at Penn State where Iowa will be on CBS, which is also available on your basic services or via Paramount+ ($5.99/month with a 1-week free trial). Then you’re on the hook for $5.99 to sign up for Peacock if you want to watch Iowa vs. MSU on TV in week 5.
Beyond that, most of the rest of the season is still TBD in terms of both kick time and TV provider. We know you’ll need to go back to Peacock for another $5.99 to watch Iowa at Northwestern in week 10. And we know that the Hawkeyes will close out the season on Black Friday at Nebraska with an 11am kick on CBS, again available on Paramount+.
That leaves us with uncertainty in weeks 6-8 (week 9 is Iowa’s bye) and weeks 11-12. But the uncertainty isn’t significant. The new TV deal cut out the likes of ABC/ESPN so that family of networks is not an option this year (or through 2030). Instead, you’re looking at one of the already mentioned options.
And notably, the Big Ten is working to create predictable window partners for all its games. Meaning, once you know the kick time, you all but know the TV channel you’ll need to find. For 11am kicks, games will be on the FOX family of networks. So when you see Iowa vs. Rutgers in week 12 and assume it’s going to be an early kick, you can also assume it will be on BTN, FS1 or FOX (I think we know the answer here).
Similarly, afternoon games are set to be aired on CBS. However, that partnership doesn’t fully blossom until 2025, after CBS has severed its existing deal with the SEC for the afternoon window. So for now, that’s the spot where there are the most questions about what channel to find Iowa on.
And going forward, the evening kick is set to be the NBC primetime window, similar to their Sunday Night Football spot with the NFL. That doesn’t mean there might not be some evening Iowa games on other networks (see that Penn State matchup) given the shuffling around for CBS in 2023 and 2024, but that’s the idea over time.
So for now, just know that the FOX family of networks via your over the air broadcaster are the primary home for Iowa football. You’ll also need CBS either via cable/satellite/streaming or via Paramount+. And you’re going to be hooked for two months of Peacock to watch the Hawkeyes take on Northwestern and potentially MSU.
As for the Big Ten Championship Game that first weekend in December, it will air on FOX again this year. CBS has the rights in 2024 and 2028 while NBC gets it in 2026 (in case you missed the pattern there, FOX has odd years while CBS and NBC split the even ones).
What You Need and What it Costs
OK, so let’s summarize here.
If you want to catch every Iowa football game this year, you’ll need FOX, FS1, BTN, CBS and Peacock for sure. You may also need NBC, which can be access via Peacock. In order to watch the FOX family of networks, you’re going to need a base package from cable/satellite/streaming.
On the low end, you’re likely looking at $70/month to get that base package. If you’re really looking to get by as cheaply as possible, you could sign up for that base package right now and then cancel/pause it following the Iowa-Penn State game on September 23rd (you could get by without the base plan that week by subscribing to Paramount+ with a free 1-week trial at $5.99 per month, but if you are just now signing up for a base package of streaming, you are already paying for 4 weeks so might as well hold that through week 4 and watch CBS there).
In week 5, as things stand today, you’ll need to subscribe to Peacock for $5.99. But be aware this game could be flexed so be sure to check before subscribing.
Then we have three weeks of uncertainty. In all likelihood, you’re going to be looking at mostly FOX channels again and thus need to do another month of a base package somewhere. Week 9 is a bye week, which is unfortunate since you’ll have already paid for it if you are trying to go month-to-month on a base streaming package.
Week 10 we’re back onto Peacock and another $5.99 to watch Iowa at Northwestern. So again, you could pause or cancel your base package here and wait to restart until week 11. Those final two regular season weeks likely to be on FOX networks again and we know the Big Ten Championship Game will be in week 13.
So, if you wanted to go month-to-month and try to maximize your value, you would need three separate months of a base streaming package at ~$70 per month, plus two separate months of Peacock at $5.99. That puts your full-season cost at ~$222.
Now, if you are able to get your local channels on Sling or opt for an antenna, you could drive down your cost significantly by swapping from that $70 base package to Sling Blue at $40 per month (again, they’re offering the first month at $20 right now). That would take your all-in cost down to ~$132 ($112 if you can grab the $20 off first month).
Obviously, everyone has different preferences and needs from their TV provider. Additionally, there are myriad local providers and packaging discounts to be had so please check with your local service providers before making any choice. If you have other great options, let us know in the comments below!